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Portable Game Guide - NES LCD - Pinball - 2600 Composite Mod

by CRTGAMER Sat May 19, 2012 4:16 pm

Portable and Transportable Pinball Games

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Pinball is lost form of gaming that has a resurgence in the form of video game compilations in consoles and portable gaming. However, there is something in the mechanics of a solid metal ball bouncing around the table that does not quite make it on the video screen.

Few can afford or have room for full sized Arcade machines, the reason for Mame and Arcade compilations. The same issue also applies for Pinball Tables which take up a larger footprint. There are table top Pinball games to recapture the feel, I'll take a look at two tables made by TOMY. First a mention of a portable version.

Tiger Electronic Pinball
This came out in 1987, made by Tiger Electronics. Unlike the Gameboy which came out two years later, the earlier LCDs did not have pixel to pixel movement. The "movement" is animated by predrawn images that are turned on and off. This leaves for blocky movement, a bit of imagination is needed to see what is going on.

An early form of portable Electronic Pinball gaming, this has an advantage over older LED games due to more then just a simple red light representing an object. The Flipper buttons have a nice feel, but a limitation of the blocky movement of the on screen animation.

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Portable gaming greatly improved once the Gameboy arrived. Games such as Revenge of Gator and Pokemon Pinball captured the Pinball feel with better animation and sounds. However the best way would still be a real Pinball Table, just how to get a machine for use in the home? A certain company called TOMY who also made the Radio Shack Armatron would make affordable Home Pinball a reality.

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Tomy Atomic Arcade Pinball - 1987
A real table shrunken down, battery powered for portability taking five D Cell batteries. Based on 80s style of Pinball games, the Tomy tables have a Space Theme. Up front it looks like just a toy, but there are features of a real Pinball Table built into the table top. Launching the ball is straight forward, but once it drops down the top slot the scores start to ramp up with a familiar Ding sound. The score wheels rotating really captures the look and sounds of predigital scoring Pinball Tables. There are real Rollover Switches in two of the tunnels. Next, when the ball hits one of the Bumpers, the familiar kick of a solenoid comes into play. The ball comes alive, bouncing off the bumpers. Another bell ding accompanying by sounds of the steel ball ricocheting off the guides and sometimes bouncing off the clear top.

Not a decal, a Painted Steel Plate Playfield under the "glass." :shock:
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The Atomic Table I bought had a broken battery contact. An easy fix, a simple matter of adding longer screws to secure the copper contacts once the top was removed. I started thinking about how to convert the table to AC and took some volt readings. The batteries are laid out in a strange fashion, two pairs in parallel and one battery below. D Batteries put out 1.5 volts each. Taking a reading underneath confirmed that instead of the five batteries totaling at 7.5 volts, 4.5 volts shows. This matches the layout of the pairs of two battery parallel with the bottom lone battery kicking up the top four battery volts. The game actually works with just three batteries. There is a chance the lone battery is also supplying just 1.5 volts to the PCB underneath, so at this point I did not want to risk an AC mod on a 1987 Classic Pinball Table.

Inside, a feature laden machine with motor, gears and solenoids.
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Note the black bevel plastic "washers" switches surrounding the three orange round kickers. When the ball comes in contact with the beveled washer and depressing the switch, this causes the bumper to do the solenoid shake which shoots the steel ball in a random direction. The two orange rectangle kickers also have a black step switch for the ball. This is a real kick to play, the ball mechanics really jump around when a bumper is hit.

Tomy Astro Shooter Pinball - 1985
The preceding big brother to Atomic Pinball. The table field is longer and wider and is also AC powered instead of battery operated. It also has a steel plate painted Play Field, under the "glass".

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There is an additional third Flipper towards the top of the table controlled by the right lever. A great add on feature, a rotating red wheel at the bottom of the field above the lower Flippers. This will change the ball in a random direction, throwing the player off.

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Just like Atomic Pinball, a speaker and PCB is used for sounds. This table took the Ding sound a step further by incorporating Laser and Explosion sounds when a Bumper or Roller Switch is hit. There are two Kickout Saucers when struck, hold the pinball, rack up points and then shoot the ball back out.

Kickout Saucer in a real Pinball Table, the TOMY table has three.
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The real jewel that makes this table is the top track with a ball drop hole. I find myself tipping the whole table just to try it out, lucky there is no tilt mechanism to kill the fun. :D
Jeff wrote:http://www.jeff-z.com/pinball/toys/astroshooter/astroshooter.html

The most lucrative shot (and most challenging) is the left orbit. At the top of the left orbit is a cellar hole. The ball disappears down the cellar hole while many points are racked up and is then shot back out above the upper right flipper.

I do not consider the Tomy Pinball tables as just toys although they were marketed as such. Both have features of real Pinball tables including motorized Score Number Wheels, Sounds, Steel Painted Playfield, Flippers, Rollover Score Switches, Reactive Bumpers and Slingshots that are controlled by solenoids. Pinball collections in consoles are great and are important in preserving real Pinball Tables to play in a digital format. However, the small tables are also good to collect, another diversion in capturing the real feel of a Pinball game, the fun of the steel ball hitting the "glass." :wink:

References
http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Tiger/Pinball.htm
http://www.jeff-z.com/pinball/index.html
http://www.jeff-z.com/pinball/toys/atomic/atomic.html
http://www.jeff-z.com/pinball/toys/astroshooter/astroshooter.html

http://www.retrothing.com/2006/11/tomy_reissues_a.html


My larger Pinball table is missing the legs to tilt the table. The above links has dimensions of the original legs, I used a couple of short PVC pipes, the Threaded portions fit after a little bit of filing down.

Right Click for a larger pic
Tomy Astro Shooter -  Atomic Arcade Pinball.jpg
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Re: Portable Game Guide - NES LCD - Pinball - 2600 Composite

by CRTGAMER Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:12 am

Mattel Baseball - A Sleuth Simple Repair
A common problem with portables - Old leaking batteries left inside


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One thing I have noticed when buying Vintage Portable Games is finding corrosion from old leaking batteries left inside. In most cases, the contacts just need a simple cleaning with a small wire brush or jewelers screwdriver. Sometimes the corrosion is so bad that it can actually damage a contact such as the Pinball Tabletop above.

The Mattel Baseball game had corrosion on the Negative terminal. The tell tale white powder completely coated the metal. Shining up the metal did not help and I feared the worst. Just like the original Mattel Football, this portable also has a plug in for an AC adapter. What if a wrong higher voltage adapter was plugged in frying the PCB inside?

CRTGAMER wrote:Mattel Football and Mattel Baseball both contain a jack for a nine volt AC Adapter. Interesting that because of the era it is not a pin plug but a "Mono Earphone" jack just like the Atari VCS 2600 console. The Atari brick fits perfect with the correct power of nine volts. The amps is also adequate since the portable uses less "juice" then an Atari VCS. :idea:

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Disassembly
The cover is held by four screws. Not slotted or phillips or allen and not Gamebit either, but four triangle holed screws. An expensive electronic game back in the day, maybe to keep a curious kid from taking it apart? Really an odd screw, a jewelers slotted driver will fit if the exact correct size to squeeze in.

The insides are a real work of art. This is 1978 technology, so a lot simpler compared to a modern portable. Even so, I cannot spot the LEDs for the ball or players, so tiny. Each score number is a miniature red LED with a plastic clear bubble on top that acts as a magnifying glass. The ball and players are also represented by red LEDs mounted on the PCB. Movement is simulated by the sequence of lights kicking on and off. :shock:

Right Click for a larger pic
See if you can spot the LEDs mounted on the PCB traces.


Mattel Baseball PCB.jpg
Mattel Baseball PCB.jpg (254.3 KiB) Viewed 8188 times


Detective Work
I then took a volt reading with a nine volt battery popped in. Read where the battery wires connect to the PCB. The OHM meter needle would just jump up slightly, just over a volt. This is strange, was the PCB grounding out sucking up the voltage? I then took a reading at the AC power brick jack. Same thing only around 1.3 volts. Well at least I confirmed the power brick is on the same line and could possibly recharge a battery, that is if the game was working.

Next, I popped the white battery clip off and read the connecters covering the terminals of battery. Confirmed I got the full 9 volts, but at the solder connection it only read 1.3 volts. Okay so maybe the solder was giving way, so I did a remelt with a pencil iron. After the resolder it still reads only 1.3 Volts! A real puzzler, i started looking closer at the metal cap that covers each battery terminal. Why the full nine volts at the cap and less at the wire? :?

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The center of each cap has the solder plate "riveted" to it. The rivet loosened up over the years and the battery corrosion worked into the two metal pieces. A new battery clip assembly could be used, but I wanted to keep the original 1st edition white plastic 9 volt holder. A small pin punch did the trick with a few light taps to recrimp the rivet binding the two metal pieces.

Tin Piezo Speaker
The speaker is the most rudimentary of speaker designs. No cone here, just two metal discs offering the beep sounds. One wire came off during the battery clip repair so I had to resolder it back in place. A lot of heat to make the wire stick followed by electrical tape to keep it secure. Amazed at all the heat put on the tin speaker and it still works, certainly more durable then a regular cone speaker. A good move by Mattel, inexpensive and built to last. :!:

Gameplay
The handheld has an instruction sticker on the back. All portable games should have a sticker like this.

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To play a game start by pitching the ball with the PITCH button and pressing the HIT button just as the LED crosses the Home plate represented by a sequence of lights that kick on and off. When making a hit, listen for how many beeps to determine how many bases to go with the RUN button. If a fast runner, maybe go for home plate, a slow runner go less bases. The SCORE button verifies Innings, Strikes, Balls, Outs and the scores of visitor and home teams. Very basic gameplay, the addiction comes in of timing just one more hit and the guesstimating of how many bases to run. A Home run is a treat, produces flashing LEDs and music tones, literally a fireworks show. Nice feature, the way the lights do the circle dance. 8)

Image Mattel Baseball

References
http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Mattel/BaseB.htm
http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Manuals/Mattel-Baseball.pdf
http://softsolder.com/2009/01/08/inside-9v-batteries/

At the correct angle for lighting, you can see the PCB traces under the red lens. There is a man on first represented by the LED turned on.
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Portable Game Guide - Atari Flashback - NES LCD - 2600 Mod

by CRTGAMER Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:11 pm

:shock: I recently bought a Flashback 3, now only $29.96 at Wallymart! I updated my review of the Atari PlugnPlays.

All three Flashbacks reviewed - viewtopic.php?f=52&t=33076&p=561423#p561423

Atari Flashback 1-2-3.jpg
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Re: Portable Game Guide - Atari Flashback - NES LCD - 2600 M

by Opa Opa Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:12 pm

I've said it before but I'll say it again:

Those Mattel handhelds are pretty fun.
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Re: Portable Game Guide - Atari Flashback - NES LCD - 2600 M

by retrosportsgamer Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:49 pm

What do the Atari Flashback 1 & 2's typically go for?

Shame, I didn't see Ice hockey in any of them.
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Re: Portable Game Guide - Atari Flashback - NES LCD - 2600 M

by CRTGAMER Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:09 pm

retrosportsgamer wrote:What do the Atari Flashback 1 & 2's typically go for?

Shame, I didn't see Ice hockey in any of them.

The Flashback 2 can get pricey because of the Atari on Chip and the mod possibility. However, there are listings for around thirty bucks online when shopping around. I got lucky and bought both at the Swap Meet a a good price. I bought the Atari Flashback for $5.00 and the Atari Flashback 2 for $15.00. The trick is to buy from sellers who do not specialize in just video games.
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Re: Portable Game Guide - Atari Flashback - NES LCD - 2600 M

by retrosportsgamer Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:28 am

Hey CRT - what does the Ms. Pacman Plug-n-play usually run for?

I passed it up at a flea market for $5 but then saw someone on Craigslist that cited an eBay sale that was $100. i'm guessing that was one with the expansion slot.

Did I miss a good deal?
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Re: Portable Game Guide - Atari Flashback - NES LCD - 2600 M

by CRTGAMER Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:38 am

You should grab it, five bucks is a good price. Even when not played a nice display for the shelf. The price all depends on where you shop, Online tends to be price spike crazy. This in comparison to what I usually see them going for three to five dollars at the Thrift Store and Swap Meet. The Key version is the harder to come by with the key carts intact.

A Google Shopping search: http://www.google.com/search?q=ms+pacma ... CAoQ_AUoBA
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Re: Portable Game Guide - Atari Flashback - NES LCD - 2600 M

by retrosportsgamer Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:43 am

Thanks - that's what I figured. I was in a rush and wanted to hear "$2 or $3" so I figured I'd think about it. Poor decision by me, but learned something out of it.
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Re: Portable Game Guide - Atari Flashback - NES LCD - 2600 M

by CRTGAMER Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:09 am

retrosportsgamer wrote:Thanks - that's what I figured. I was in a rush and wanted to hear "$2 or $3" so I figured I'd think about it. Poor decision by me, but learned something out of it.

Once in a while You should be able to spot one at the swap Meet, good luck.
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